The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) is an interdisciplinary professional and educational organization devoted to transgender health.
They publish one of the most widely-used consensus-based models of care for gender identity and expression. Published since 1979, the WPATH Standards of Care “promote evidence based care, education, research, advocacy, public policy, and respect in transgender health.”
WPATH also publishes the International Journal of Transgenderism, a members-only research publication.
WPATH also has regional organizations:
- Australia/New Zealand (AUSPATH/ANZPATH)
- Canada (CPATH)
- Europe (EPATH)
- United States (USPATH)
The organization was founded in 1979 as the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association (HBIGDA). In 2007 they officially renamed to World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH).
- Paul A. Walker, PhD 1979-1981
- Donald R. Laub, MD 1981-1983
- Milton T. Edgerton, MD 1983-1985
- Ira B. Pauly, MD 1985-1987
- Aaron T. Bilowitz, MD 1987-1989
- Jan Walinder, MD 1989-1991
- Leah Schaefer, EdD 1991-1995
- Friedmann Pfaefflin, MD 1995-1997
- Richard Green, JD 1997-1999
- Alice Webb, DHS, 1999*
- Eli Coleman, PhD, 1999-2003
- Walter Meyer III, MD 2003-2005
- Stan Monstrey, MD 2005-2007
- Stephen Whittle, OBE, PhD, MA, LLB , BA 2007-2009
- Walter Bockting, PhD 2009-2011
- Lin Fraser, Ed.D., 2011–2013
- Jamison Green, Ph.D., 2013–2015
- Gail Knudson, M.D., FRCPC, 2016–2018
- Vin Tangpricha, M.D., Ph.D., 2018-2020
Standards of Care versions:
- Version 1 (1979)
- Version 2 (1980)
- Version 3 (1981)
- Version 4 (1990)
- Version 5 (1998)
- Version 6 (2001)
- Version 7 (2012)
Comments on Bailey (2003)
In 2003, outgoing President Eli Coleman criticized the 2003 book The Man Who Would Be Queen by J. Michael Bailey in his keynote speech at their international symposium. As he outlined the need to “promote sound and ethical research,” he cited Bailey’s book by name as an example of “unfortunate setbacks,” saying “We need to challenge bad science.”
On October 20, 2003 HBIGDA responded to an inquiry from noted scientists Lynn Conway, Deirdre McCloskey, Ben Barres, Barbara P. Nash, and Joan Roughgarden.
Re: Concerns about J. Michael Bailey’s book “The Man Who Would Be Queen.”
Dear Drs. Conway, McCloskey, Barres, Nash, and Roughgarden:
Thank you for your letter of July 14, 2003, in which you alert the officers and board of directors of the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association (HBIGDA) to your concerns about the book entitled ‘The Man Who Would Be Queen’ authored by J. Michael Bailey, a Professor at Northwestern University in Chicago, IL. We recognize the controversy surrounding the publication, and we know it has been drawn to the attention of many of our members.
HBIGDA is a self-regulatory association of professionals who work with transgender and transsexual people, with clear ethical guidelines, which cover all areas of professional and patient/client interaction. The Benjamin Association considers the ethical conduct of researchers, teachers, and practitioners in the field of gender identity of utmost importance. However, Dr. Bailey is not a member of HBIGDA, as such we are not able to undertake an inquiry, as we could not insist on Dr. Bailey’s participation or recognition of the process. We can assure you though that the Association’s Board of Directors is deeply concerned about the issues raised in your letter and the supporting materials you referenced. The allegations of mistreatment of transsexual women as research subjects are very serious. Therefore, the Board of Directors of HBIGDA finds it appropriate that an investigation into these allegations is being conducted by Northwestern University.
The HBIGDA Board of Directors believes that a relationship of trust and mutual respect between the scientific and the transgender communities is essential to further its mission to promote the health and well-being of transgender and transsexual individuals and their families. It is felt by many of our members that this poorly referenced book does not reflect the social and scientific literature that exists on transsexual people and could damage that essential trust. We hope that the Office for the Protection of Research Subjects at Northwestern will consider the ethical issues that are involved and we will be sending them a copy of this letter so that they are aware of our concerns. We are also preparing a separate letter to Northwestern University to express our concerns directly.
While we await the results of Northwestern University’s investigation, we encourage everyone affected by this controversy to exercise professionalism and treat the relationship between researchers, practitioners, and the community with great care.
Thank you again for informing us of your concerns.
Walter J. Meyer III, MD
President, on behalf of the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association Officers and Board of Directors
Bean Robinson, Ph.D.
Response from Ray Blanchard (2003)
This led Ray Blanchard to resign from HBIGDA on November 4, 2003. His letter states:
Dear Drs. Meyer and Robinson:
It is with deep regret that I tender my resignation in the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association (HBIGDA). I have long supported the goals of the HBIGDA. I have been involved in the clinical care of transsexual persons for 24 years. During the years 1983 to 1991, I conducted eight research studies on the therapeutic impact of hormonal and surgical treatment of transsexuals, studies that were reported in six refereed journal articles and two book chapters. I published an additional article on the desirability of insurance coverage for sex reassignment surgery as recently as 2000. It is therefore a matter of some sadness that the recent actions of the HBIGDA Executive have made it necessary for me to disassociate myself from this organization.
I am referring to the appalling decision of the HBIGDA Officers and Board of Directors to attempt to intervene in Northwestern University’s investigation into the allegations made by certain members of the transsexual community against Prof. J. Michael Bailey. This decision is documented in the attached letter, which is prominently displayed on a popular transsexual Web site. Such an intervention, undertaken without any effort by the HBIGDA to conduct their own systematic inquiry or to learn all the relevant facts of the matter, could only be prejudicial to Northwestern’s investigation. In fact it has the appearance, whether this is accurate or not, of being a deliberate and improper attempt to bias that investigation. The HBIGDA would have been better advised to allow the Northwestern authorities, who are actually taking the trouble to investigate the allegations, to reach an impartial decision based on all relevant testimony and factual evidence.
I do not know the motives behind the Officers’ and Board of Directors’ actions, but those motives are irrelevant. It is their actions that are unacceptable and that make it impossible for me to continue to belong to the HBIGDA.
Very truly yours,
My Standards of Care comments (2007)
In 2006 I formally requested that the organization push for declaring facial procedures medically necessary. I argued that hair removal, voice, and facial feminization should be covered by health insurance, as they all can have much more impact on the quality of life of trans people.
World Professional Association for Transgender Health (wpath.org)
Australia and New Zealand Professional Association for Transgender Health – ANZPATH (auspath.org)
Canadian Professional Association for Transgender Health / L’Association Canadienne des professionnels en santé des personnes transsexuelles – CPATH (cpath.ca)
European Professional Association for Transgender Health (epath.eu)
US Professional Association for Transgender Health – USPATH (wpath.org/uspath)